14ymedio, Havana, 4 June 2019 — The police released artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara on Tuesday afternoon after he spent 24 hours in the San Miguel del Padrón police station, the independent artist explained to 14ymedio.
By telephones, moment after his release, Alcántara related that he was arrested on Monday in the middle of the street. The artist claims State Security officers along with uniformed National Revolutionary Police (PNR) who led him to a patrol car.
The arrest came shortly after Alcántara announced his participation in a performance at the Museum of Dissidence in Cuba, which consisted of holding the Cuban flag on a balcony for a period of 24 hours at a ninety degree angle. During the arrest, the police confiscated one of the banners that he was going to use in the artistic action.
May the country contemplate you with pride? is the name of the performance that, despite the repression, was carried out. “We did everything, the reading, the action with the flag and then a party,” one of the members of the San Isidro Movement told this newspaper.
“Once again they talked to me about public space, they say that everything inside the house is fine but they will not allow anything to happen in the public space. I told them that the balcony was part of my house but they say no, and well, we can go on like this for 70 years because I am going to continue making my art despite the arrests,” explained Otero Alcántara.
This work is the last of the series SeUsa, a work that received criticism from officialdom. In particular, the peformance with the American flag was described as “annexationist” by Fernando Rojas, the vice minister of culture.
In his Twitter account Rojas wrote “Thousands of exhibitions, hundreds of artists, millions of Cuban men and women, the great popular festival of visuality in Cuba, that three annexationists will not tarnish. They dressed children in the US flag and made them parade down the street, they abuse goodness and innocence.”
Last April, the artist, who is also a member of the San Isidro Movement, suffered an arbitrary detention that prevented him from carrying out this action, planned in the context of the XIII Havana Biennial.
The piece was a tribute to Daniel Llorente, “The man with the flag,” and consisted of young people from the neighborhood running 66 meters wearing a T-shirt with the Cuban flag and holding the American flag on their heads. The action recalled the protest of Daniel Llorente, on May 1st of 2017, in the Plaza of the Revolution.
Otero Alcántara is known on the island for his rebellious art and was one of the most visible faces in the fight against Decree 349, which restricts the freedom of creation of artists. In 2016 he created the Museum of Dissidence in Cuba with Yanelys Nuñez, a project that aims to approach the history of the Island with an independent and critical view.
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